Food is often associated with self-soothing. Whether it’s seeking comfort food after a long day or cooking your mother’s recipes for a reminder of home, we often attach good memories and emotions to eating food. But do these good moods only come from nostalgia or taste satisfaction? Or do some foods actually make you happier on a chemical level?
Recently, research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health has been emerging. It’s shown that some foods possess chemical concentrates that may lower depression and increase feel-good chemicals in your brain. To everyone’s surprise, it wasn’t ice cream. In fact, sugary, high-calorie treats may actually worsen your spirits. Here are five mood-boosting foods for a healthy diet:
1. Fermented Foods
The key to boosting your mood through food is releasing serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, stress response, and appetite. Almost 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by your gut microbiome. Therefore, eating foods that promote healthy gut bacteria can directly increase serotonin production. What’s a clear shot to a healthy gut? Eating fermented foods. The fermentation process allows bacteria to convert sugars into alcohol and acids oftentimes leading to healthier gut bacteria and lower rates of depression.
It’s hard to be sad while eating a banana. They are a great source for natural sugars and fibers that can stabilize moody swings. Bananas also synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin because they are high in vitamin B6. A banana will also ease digestion with its fibrous probiotics that improves gut health.
3. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are rich in two types of omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega-3s contribute to the fluidity of your brain’s cell membrane, which improves brain development and cell signaling. A recent clinical trail by the National Library of Medicine, showed that consuming omega-3’s in the form of fish oil may lower depression scores in participants.
4. Dark chocolate
Need your sweet fix? Thank goodness for chocolate. Dark chocolate has a variety of components that help boost your mood. The sugar acts as a fast energy boost, while its health-promoting flavonoids have been shown to increase blood flow to your brain, reduce inflammation, and boost brain health. Chocolate also has a high hedonic rating, meaning that it has a pleasurable taste, texture, and smell.
We all know that eating fruits and veggies is good for your body but it might also be good for your mind. According to the National Library of Medicine, berries are rich in antioxidants that help manage inflammation and relieve oxidative stress that is sometimes linked to depression and other mood disorders. Plus it’s hard to go wrong with a sweet berry snack!
Who said comfort food had to be unhealthy? These health-conscious foods have nutrients that will feed your body and your soul. Ready to jump-start your day with a new mood-boosting diet?
Try out some of these comfort foods today!